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In other news, I relocated my office this week to make room for my kids to not all be in the same room (now we have a girl room and boy room). As I was cleaning stuff out and throwing stuff away, I went on a nostalgia-filled reminiscing trip. I've been making games for a long time now (over 10 years) and it's been a wild ride!
Newgrounds was the first place to really encourage me and recognize a spark of talent in me (though my old stuff is really cringeworthy looking back). I've worked with a lot of talented people and made some legit friends. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the old days when people had a lot more free time and you could get by making smaller-sized experimental games to flex your creative muscles.
Some of my highlights were P.I.C.O., Nephi's Adventure, Aqua Slug, Black Sheep Acres, Ivan Drago: Justice Enforcer, BoM Beat Battle (Winning the "Rockout" contest) visiting Comic Con 3 years in a row. Terrascape. Trick or Treat Adventure Quest. Boss Bash. Going to Pico Day. Doing stuff for Wiggi World/Woogi World. Visiting Italy. Pico Blast. Castle Crashing the Beard. The Newgrounds Printed Calendar. Buccaneer Battle (winning the Max Games contest). Portal Defenders. Cave of Wonders. Chibi Knight. Madness: Premeditation. Abobo's Big Adventure (Winning a NG Tank Award). 3 kids along the way. Super Chibi Knight. Deterministic Dungeon. Time flies!
I wonder if my "peak" was some point in there or if it's still to come. I wonder if things will "click" monetarily soon with a bigger project. I can definitely see improvement in myself over that time period, but the market in-general has also gotten better and better with higher standards.
I made a spreadsheet of my games (since the NG API was launched and I began tracking stats across the web) to see if I could recognize any trends. Surprisingly, Pico Blast seems to have had the broadest appeal on the web for the longest time. It's a good fun "boss rush" game, with nice variety, but I wouldn't have chosen it as my "best game." 2008-2010 seems to be my most "successful" time period.
Also, I discovered that, just since starting to track stats in 2007, my top 20 games have been played over 100 million times. That means I've been entertaining 10 million+ players a year for 10 years!
Johnny Carson, talking about why comedians do what they do said:
"Everybody wants to be loved–no matter what they do. Everybody wants to feel that somebody likes them, they’re accepted. It’s an attention-getting thing. And that, in effect, is like saying, ‘Hey, look at me, folks. I’m getting your acceptance.’ So it is a form of love, I think, you’re looking for from the audience. And I’m sure that’s part of it, to any performer, is that, 'they like me’."
I've questioned my motivations for creating stuff a lot over the years. Money is ONE motivation, but there is also the desire for acceptance/love mentioned by Johnny Carson. It might be called "attention whoring" or whatever, but I can't deny there's some of that going on with me. I don't think it's shameful, it's just a part of any person's creative drive.
I honestly believe that, even if I had all the money in the world, I'd still be doing this, worrying about how popular my creations are, and enjoying it.
Updates on Boss Clash: I've been working on menus!
Hey peoples! The "secret" game project I've been referring to lately is ready to be announced!
This will be a game where all you do is FIGHT BOSSES! It's kinda like my old game Boss Bash, but with a little more consistency and a LOT more bosses. There will be a LOT of surprises, but that's the general gist.
If you would like to be a BETA TESTER please visit the website and sign up!
I've got to set long-term challenging events to keep myself motivated to exercise, so here's the latest:
I'm going on a BIKE TOUR down the coast of California!
It's all self-planned, guerilla-style, with my best bud. Hopefully I don't get hit by any crazy RV-driving tourists! (SHARE THE ROAD!)
Here's the itinerary:
DAY 1. Vets Memorial Park to Kirk Creek Campground - 60.2 miles - Rated: Difficult - http://bit.ly/1Yfir26
DAY 2. Kirk Creek Campground to San Simeon State Beach - 40 miles - Rated: Medium - http://bit.ly/1PkuhB9
DAY 3. San Simeon State Beach to Oceano Campground - 52.6 miles - Rated: Easy - http://bit.ly/1tn7O25
DAY 4. Oceano Campground to Gaviota State Park - 61.6 miles - Rated: Medium - http://bit.ly/1VR6WOf
DAY 5. Gaviota State Park to Carpinteria State Beach - 44.4 miles - Rated: Easy - http://bit.ly/1UljBYt
DAY 6. Carpinteria State Beach to Leo Carillo State Beach - 47.8 miles - Rated: Medium - http://bit.ly/25PzBt7
DAY 7. Leo Carillo State Beach to Huntington Beach - 71.7 miles - Rated: Difficult - http://bit.ly/1UaILHT
I'm continuing work on my secret project, now code-named "PASTELLE" - OOOOOOoooooooooo! Mysterious!
Here's some video of me streaming work on it (WARNING: 1.5 hours long!):
I'll be streaming pretty regularly during the coming weeks (it keeps me motivated and focused) so follow me on TWITCH to know when I go live! (there are already a few more videos there from further development) https://www.twitch.tv/pestoforce
How are your projects going? Got any summer plans?
Still working on getting back into shape. I'm planning a long distance bike ride for the end of July and don't have much time to get ready for it!
In game news, I'm trying to figure out how best to port Deterministic Dungeon to mobile. I'm thinking I might need to team up with someone who's really good at Unity, so I can just focus on the art and the game design. I have a pretty sweet design document that outlines the improvements and upgrades I'd like to make for mobile.
Are you the Unity expert I'm looking for? Do you know someone who is? There's money to be made if you're the right fit. PM me or comment if you have any leads! Show me some examples of work you've done!
I really dig his take on the character! If you want to check out the anims, look here:
Also, here's a gif:
It really warms my heart when people do fan art of my stuff.
Also going full steam ahead on a neeeeaaattttooo web game with some help from Antony Lavelle (@the-exp).
What are you up to these days?
Edit: Forgot to include this little anim from Good Knight Story
Deterministic Dungeon is out there and has been doing great! (after 2.5 weeks it's nearing 500k plays across the web at the time of this post). Big thanks to @TomFulp for featuring it on the NG front page!
There are a couple bugs, and a few balancing issues, but overall I <3 the game and would really like to do a more fully fleshed-out sequel for mobile. It's the kind of game you want to idly play for a few minutes throughout the day.
With that in mind I've been reconsidering tech for the mobile port. Here are my current opinions on my options:
1. Starling - great mobile performance, big + for also playing well in web browsers as Flash. Great support and community + plugins. FREE! Downside: No console porting and PC/Mac/Linux support is a pretty big hassle for Steam. Shaders are resource intensive and not a very robust library.
2. Unity - Great cross platform (+ console) performance and mobile support. Great community, lots of plugins, lots of cool special fx available with shaders. Kinda FREE, but not really. Downside: Web Unity is kind of a joke now, also Unity is not intuitive for me - the workflow is clunky compared to what I'm used to, and the 2D stuff still seems somewhat forced.
3. OpenFL (+haxe) - (I just started messing around with this) - Familiar code/workflow - similar to starling. Cross platform performance (windows, mac, ios, android, flash, html5, etc.). FREE! Poor community support, fairly complicated setup (needed outside help to get the bugs worked out with compiling for various platforms) - Some features don't work across platforms. Doesn't have very good workflow tools (someone has a dragonbones implementation working, but it only works with outdated old versions of dragonbones [2.2]).
4. GameMaker Studio - This is the easiest for me workflow-wise (meaning I can bang stuff out as fast in GM as in Flash). It has cross platform support + consoles + windows/mac etc. Downsides: Costs money, needs extra plugin for skeletal animation (can't use dragonbones/Flash), noticeably missing a good web-browser export (has html5 but I don't trust it yet).
So yeah, there's no KILLER app yet for all export targets that also blends well with Flash animation tools (important to my workflow). Unity is probably closest with OpenFL being promising, but needing more examples, community, and support. That said, if GameMaker had a .swf export, and better integration with Flash animation tools, it would hands-down win for me. I prefer it over the others SO MUCH because of how intuitive it is for my workflow I can't praise it enough!
Here's an anim for upcoming Good Knight Story content update:
Here's the final wedding cake pic I promised in my last post:
Next up is finishing another web game I'm stoked about! (also, summer time and getting back into eating right and exercising!)
What's next for you?!
My newest game, Deterministic Dungeon, just launched!
It's a small-ish "meta" project that uncovers the random number generation mechanics of most rogue-like games. I think it turned out pretty nice! That said, it's definitely more of a "proof of concept" and could use additional features and polish in quite a few areas.
I really think it would shine as a mobile game and I'd like to do an expansion as a more complete game for mobile some day. If I did would you buy it for $0.99?
I have kind of sad news too. I'm no longer working on Barfbarians... my schedule with school and family and earning a living was leaving me with next-to-no time to work on it and the other partners in the venture were getting antsy. I'm sad to leave it and hope they're able to find someone who can do the concept justice.
While I'm pretty bummed about dropping that project, I'm reinvigorated to get back to the BIG COOL game I put on the backburner for Deterministic Dungeon. I take my last final for this college semester tomorrow, then I'll have heaps of time to plow into this other game.
My freelance efforts have also picked up a bit and I've got some additional expansion content art lined up for Good Knight Story.
I had to miss the huge Pico Day festival once again this year. I had finals for school and also my brother-in-law got married and asked me and my wife to bake and decorate the cake. We were so worried we made 2 sample cakes before the wedding day. Here's one of them:
My wife did the baking and I did all the stacking, icing, and decorating... I learned a TON! The final cake looked even better (we changed up the texturing a lot for the final). I'll post a pic of it once the wedding photos are processed.
Overall I'm feeling positive about the future and can't wait to get more games out there for everyone to play!
Does this post make you happy or sad?
Once PAX is over, my latest game will be going through a final phase of testing, then it will be READY FOR THE WEB! Here's the icon for it:
A bunch of people have been helping me test it over the last week and I think (hope) all the bugs are squashed and most annoying gameplay issues have been smoothed. If you're interested in getting a sneak preview and reporting your experience/bugs send me a PM!
Here are some screenshots people have been sending from their tests:
The character is randomly generated, but somehow that one ended up looking like @Luis - I must be channeling him subconsciously...
Yes, you can use a frying pan as a weapon... and it's pretty OP!
Dragons and Dinosaurs! "Not the Mamma!"
Whatcha think? Did these screenshots get your mouth watering?!!
One thing I've seen over the past year or so is that, working steadily, my art style has evolved a lot and gained a bunch of nuances and quirks. The progress is imperceptible day to day, but over time I can't deny that I've made some significant gains. Looking at the art from when I first started Super Chibi Knight, compared with what I was producing at the end... there's a marked difference.
A lot of my stylistic progress came from working with someone who pushed me out of my comfort zone as an "art director" for a mobile game that was just recently released. He was almost NEVER happy with my first drafts and often gave me specific feedback that led me to push my boundaries. I disagreed with his feedback every time (vehemently on occasion), but I have to admit that, in the end, his influence was really positive (once I calmed my artsy ego) and helped me get to a "new level." I feel a little sheepish working with other people whose standards are higher/different than mine and whose instincts are ultimately more dialed into what will be popular/successful in the world of game dev. Apparently I still have a lot to learn.
The game I did all this art for is called, "Good Knight Story." It took the publisher over 2 years to release it and it just came out a couple days ago. For a while I was worried all my work would be lost to the ages (because of the delays), but it's cool to see something out there that has my art in it. It's a bit weird not to be involved in ANY of the other parts (coding, music, voice acting, testing, marketing, etc.) But I'm still proud of it in a strange way. Here's a gameplay video running on an iPad (notice how the publisher dismisses the interviewer's comment about the nice art style at 1:54 ish...):
Here's an article about the game on appadvice: http://appadvice.com/review/good-knight-story
Of course, now I notice nuances in others' art that I was oblivious to before that encourage me to keep aspiring for improvement, but it's good to recognize progress in yourself every once in a while.
You may remember my last post about the little financial fiasco that blind-sided me out of the blue and forced me to take on a side project. That project is nearing conclusion and I'm really proud of how it's turning out. It won't be my most epic game ever, but the concept is cool and I drew a TON of art for it in record time.
I'm hoping it meets some decent success on the web and the publisher will be interested in deepening the concept for a mobile/steam release. Here are the 32 enemies I drew and animated for it over the last 2 weeks (spoiler alert!):
Which is your favorite?
Finally, here's a cool animation that reminded me of @butzbo's style:
Have you noticed any changes in my stuff over the last couple years?
I got hit with some bad business/money news since my last post and have had to scramble to make up for an unfortunate mistake made by somebody else... at first the news was pretty upsetting and made me panic a bit, but since then I've been able to get my feet under me by taking on some additional work. Sucks, but it had to be done and it has slowed progress on my other projects I've been excited about.
I did, however, manage to put together some artwork for a "featured" spot on iTunes for a mobile game I worked on. I went all out on it and I think it turned out nice:
Here's a detail shot:
The gap-filling new project is actually turning out kinda cool, but I'm keeping it hush hush for now! Hopefully it'll be totally done in a week or so.
What do you do when plans fall apart mid-journey?
I mis-read @TomFulp 's latest news post headline and thought he was instituting a voting tax. (http://www.newgrounds.com/bbs/topic/1405581) - This would be known as a "poll tax" (an outgrowth of "Jim Crow" laws instituted to disenfranchise black voters) and expressly forbidden by the Constitution! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poll_tax_(United_States)
You narrowly dodged a bullet there Tom! And you thought US Tax laws were a hassle... don't mess with the Constitution!
Anyway, my world domination work continues forward on multiple fronts!
Undisclosed "secret" web game:
Helping Tony on his next game:
Found a repository of old anims and fx I made for a mobile game a while ago. The publisher might actually get around to releasing it soon!
Have I mentioned that I really enjoy making fx animations? Let me know which ones are your favorites! What are your leap day celebration plans?!